Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology
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Your Choice: Do You Care?



                                              YOUR CHOICE: DO YOU CARE?


                                           CARING FOR OUR FRIENDS THE CETACEANS


As the Bee Gees sang to us, “How deep is your love?”  Do you restrict your love only to your family, your nation, your own animals?  Or do you care for nature, all animals, mother earth, the world?  I’m going to help you decide.  Research shows that an open heart brings with it the greatest peace and happiness.  With all our TV, facebooking and twittering, sometimes we become lost in our iphones, thinking only of our immediate surroundings.  I’m going to startle you a bit to open up your heart to see into the greater reality around you.  Lets start with the next scene.


Let’s say you are spending a comfortable afternoon at home with your children playing happily in the yard.  All is well! But suddenly you are surrounded by explosions of excruciating sound waves piercing your mind and flesh. The explosions go on and on. You are in great pain but still alive.  Then you find your children lying on the ground, their bodies pierced and pulverized by the sonar explosions. There is no medication, no help, no doctors available. Hospitals are collapsing under the pressure of the sound waves up to 235 DB.  A foreign invasion? Extraterrestrials? No! How would you feel if you found out that the deadly sonic explosions were made by the U.S. Navy for national security and approved by the US Supreme Court? YES, this is happening today in North Carolina in our waters, happily not to us!


Please consider the consequences if these policies were carried out against our lives and our families and not to the cetacean population nearby. You won’t find the cetaceans here in Chatham County, but they can be found close by in the coastal waters. You need to know about this horrendous problem, this threat to intelligent life close by our shores. In this article you’ll find a call to action with information you can use to protect current and future threats.  Yes the threats are to cetaceans but they are also to our capacity to love   Can we stop allowing the execution of beautiful sentient beings in our waters?


If you don’t know by now, the cetacean population includes whales and dolphins which are being murdering by the hundreds of thousands. Please read further to learn about these important citizens of our waters.  New information suggests they are as intelligent, sensitive and spiritual as the best members of the human race! I hope you will care about them and you will add your voice to the many protesting this wanton destruction.


Another scene. Again it begins with you and your children playing happily in your yard. Suddenly a van pulls up, loads all of you in and drives night and day, no food and water, until you are unloaded separately into cages in a theme park where you are put on exhibit, bewildered, bereft, with strangers looking at you. You soon realize you will be taught tricks in this exhibition, your name changed to something like Flipper. Another horrible possibility but one that happens fairly often to our cetacean friends.


Please don’t stop reading now. Don’t judge, oh that’s just bleeding heart Phillips pontificating again. All parts of Mother Nature are important and all work together with us for our survival. If we are truly entering the sixth great mass extinction as predicted, we need to be conscious of the survival of all parts of nature. Today I’m speaking for the survival of an intelligent and important species which is threatened by our wanton brutality and killing.  When we ignore this problem we are in fact contributing to this mass murder. This article will provide information about the intelligence and social nature of the cetaceans, including their demonstrated affinity for humans. You will hear about examples in which they have saved our lives. Isn’t turn about fair play?


We humans do love their dogs, although we do not always care for them consistently. Hold your beloved dog up to the mirror and see what happens. Nothing! They don’t recognize themselves in a mirror. Dolphins do! This is a very high level cognitive function of self-awareness demonstrated in a number of experiments. As we preen in the mirror, so do dolphins. They have been seen turning around to view their specific body markings in the mirror! The research about cetacean intelligence is still in its infancy as humans do not understand all the important facts about life in a marine environment. I will report here about available information and then discuss the importance of the survival of the cetacean race to humanity. As dolphins are smaller than whales, they have been easier to study.


We might like to have two halves of our brain, one to sleep while the other is awake and taking care of business. Dolphins do! Cetaceans have very large brains including spindle cells which indicate the possibility of high intelligence. The cetacean cerebellum brain has more convolutions than other mammals. While humans receive most of their information through sight, cetaceans receive information through sound waves in the water (although they can also see in and out of the water.)  Adult cetaceans have two times the number of cells in the ear as humans, which could indicate superior auditory ability. There are indications that the cetacean brain evolved from land dwelling ancestors, and some bones resemble human bones.


Some whales produce melodic harmonic tones and complex songs which are repeated by others in perfect harmony. Dolphins have distinctive vocalizations with their own voice, pitch and speed as we do. Cetaceans have very complex social structures. Cetaceans live together, being very protective of each other and their children. Dolphins are known to support each other when injured, in one case feeding another dolphin for a year after a jaw injury. Dolphin mothers give birth every two or three years, and the offspring nurse 12 to 18 months.


Dolphins have been trained by the military for complex tasks such as locating missing people, scouting out unknown territory with attached cameras and detecting mines in the water. Cetaceans can learn new skills and pass on their knowledge to others. Dolphins in captivity have been shown to use their intelligence to create new reward strategies and teach them to others. One dolphin released from captivity was observed teaching tail walking to other dolphins. Amazingly, she was not taught the skill herself, having just observed others tail walking in a marine park.


Dolphins are known to demonstrate an affinity for and an interest in people. There are a great many examples of dolphins saving people in distress. They have been known to save swimmers from sharks by swimming protective circles around the people and or charging the sharks to scare them off. Dolphins are known to demonstrate helpful and empathetic behavior to handicapped children and adults in special parks.


Dolphins can use tools and teach these skills to others. Some dolphins are known to use sea sponges as tools to forage for fish in sea beds. Cetaceans have been observed to use teamwork when hunting, then share the fish. Cetaceans are among the most playful animals, creating games of tag and catch with each other and sometimes exhibiting playful behavior with humans in ships.


 Like humans, cetaceans value their life and their families and social groups. They also value their freedom. If removed from their large extended families they become ill and depressed and sometimes exhibit unnatural aggressive behavior. Would you like to be confined as a show animal, swimming forever in a small concrete enclosure? Think about it!  In confinement their life expectancy is considerably reduced. Orcas live long lives in the wild (30 to 50 years with some living to 80 or 90.) Captive orcas average survival rate is estimated at 8.5 years! Imagine the torture and indignity these free swimming animals must endure to change their survival rate so drastically!


You can find a sophisticated analysis of dolphin intelligence and rights by consulting the book, “In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier” Thomas White, Wiley -Blackwell, 2007. White concluded that dolphins are persons (non-human persons) and that it is therefore wrong to kill, injure or keep them in captivity. He sees “chilling similarities with the practice of human slavery and our treatment of the dolphins.” He reviewed existing research in detail, concluding, “Dolphins are very much like us – they are self-aware individuals with sophisticated cognitive and emotional abilities.” A recent book also worth consulting is “War of the Whales: A True Story.”  Joshua Horwitz, Simon & Schuster, 2014. This book describes and details the facts of the otherwise concealed destruction of whales and dolphins by our Navy sonar supposedly for national defense as it was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.


Unfortunately there are many different and increasing risks to this cetacean stability and survival. I’ll mention a few of the continuing risks as well as imminent plans for sonar and oil exploration along the eastern seacoast from Florida to Delaware, including of course North Carolina. Intense cetacean fishing is conducted by Japan, Iceland and Norway. A chilling documentary “The Cove” portrayed a yearly dolphin hunt in Japan wherein unsuspecting dolphins are driven into an enclosed area and clubbed to death in a river of blood I could not bear to watch this film which won an Oscar for the best documentary in 2010.  In other instances curious or unsuspecting cetaceans are often entangled in fishing nets. Commercial fisheries are estimated to kill 300,000 cetaceans the year. Dolphin skin is packed with nerve endings many times more sensitive than humans, making entanglements in nets or being hit by a boat exceedingly painful. Deceased dolphins are found with pounds of ingested plastics inside, a result of our wanton waste disposal in the oceans. Pollution and toxins are increasing problems. Many dolphins died during and after the Gulf oil spill, and newly born dolphins are often found in this area to be unhealthy or deformed. Oil pollutants in water can get into the blowholes, eyes and mouth of these animals, causing distress, injury or death. Observations of the dolphin brain connections indicate high sensitivity to pain. Stress-related adrenal gland secretions can cause irreparable damage to the dolphin heart resulting in death even after escape from fishing nets and other man-made dangers.


Our Supreme Court has declared corporations to be citizens. (I thought only people were citizens!) Now corporate oil companies have recently secured the approval of the government and President Obama to open up our eastern coastal waters to sonic booms for oil exploration in addition to the existing Navy sonar explosions. There is no consideration for the life and rights of these beautiful and sophisticated cetaceans who cannot protect themselves from unexpected and deadly sound waves which we unleash upon these defenseless citizens of the sea. Those of us who are upset by the bloody Japanese clubbing of dolphins must also consider the horrific auditory attack by our government on the cetaceans most sensitive organs.


Please read and sign the Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans: Whales and Dolphins signed in an international conference in Helsinki Finland, 2010.  You will find it easily on the Internet. They state their affirmation that “all cetaceans, as persons, have the right to life, liberty and wellbeing.”


Please sign up for the many organizations which support cetacean rights, read their information, sign their petitions and provide financial support for litigation which unfortunately is necessary to protect these friend animals in our oceans.  These include: the Center for Biological Diversity, Save Japan Dolphins, EarthJustice, Ocean Conservancy, Greenpeace, Save Earth Oceans, as well as other petition sites.  Sign up for updates from Whale and Dolphin Conservation, at  You can even adopt a specific humpback whale!  I adopted a 34 year old whale named Crystal!   You can find his story and the book, Crystal, The Story of a Real Baby Whale,” Karen Smyth, Down East Books, 1991. Check out a petition by a fifth grade student named Marissa on the to introduce a bill to end orca or dolphin captivity.  In her picture she is carrying a sign, “Teach Your Children Compassion Not Cruelty.”  So far no Florida senator or representative will sponsor her bill!


As motivation or enjoyment listen to some of the special music inspired by our friends in the seas. Check out Kamal’s “Reiki Whale Dreaming” and “Reiki Whale Song”, where the ocean and beautiful music intermingle.  More upbeat rollicking music can be found in “Dolphins: a Message of Hope” by Frederick Delarue. 


Have you seen the CNN filming of the DVD “Blackfish”, subtitled “Never capture which you can’t control.”?  Blackfish describes the story of the Sea World whale Tilikum, in captivity demonstrating a behavior not found in whales allowed to remain in their native oceans: killing humans and trainers.  You can view the DVD to further understand this tragic turn of events, then consider joining the protests against keeping orcas in captivity.


Other books worth reading by Richard O’Barry are “Behind the Dolphin Smile,” Algonquin, 1988, and “To Free a Dolphin,” Renaissance, 2000. O’Barry was the original trainer of Flipper when one of the dolphins died of stress in his arms. Realizing then that his work as an animal trainer was a mistake, O’Barry decided that dolphins have as much right to freedom as humans.  He has spent the rest of his life trying to reprogram and release captive dolphins. O’Barry is the producer of the award-winning documentary “The Cove.”


You may be interested in swimming with dolphins which is described as a wonderful and spiritual experience. I would suggest only swimming with dolphins in their native seas. This is possible although difficult and expensive. I made the mistake of swimming with dolphins in a theme park in Cancun Mexico. Immediately I realized my mistake. I saw the captive animals having to play tricks for the children and adults. I was able to swim close by one of the dolphins. Maybe it was my imagination, but I felt I sensed the dolphin’s interest in humans but deep frustration for being confined in such humiliating role.


If you are interested in spirituality, you may be interested to note that many writers have sensed that the cetaceans have high spiritual connections, more than most people. Consult, for example, the work of Patricia Cori. A prolific author and commentator, her sensitivity to higher energies was demonstrated when she was interrupted leading a workshop by strident calls of whales and dolphins beaching themselves across the globe. Since that time she has been dedicated to this cause, explaining our spiritual connections to the special beings in the sea. Her book, “Before We Leave You: Messages from the Great Whales and the Dolphin Beings”, North Atlantic Books, 2011, presents their point of view. For example, “The ultimate war that is being waged now is the greatest war of all time: man against nature, against the light. The final decision will soon be taken. It will be the one that either drowns out the music of Gaia and replaces it with the static hum of a robotic society, blocking Gaia’s journey through the ascension cord of the SunStar, or it will sound the glory of the Earth and its conscious beings, clear and crystalline, across the waves of the Cosmic sea.”    


Should we care? Yes! We must extend our love and support to our Mother Earth without whom we would not survive. Our days and years are imperiled. With support for the integrity of our lands and our oceans we may be able to save life on this planet. When can we live in love, not just to our human family, but to all of nature? We hear so little about values today. In my articles I am calling upon you to live in love, to value humanity and the natural world. Today I ask you to help save our friends, the whales and dolphins in our seas.


Keep this information in your heart, spread these words to others, send love in your prayers or meditations, and commit yourself to the cause of humanitarian care for all, including these special citizens of our world, the cetaceans!


WOULD YOU LIKE MORE INFORMATION?  For an up to date summary of this type of information go to: